Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tour Diary and TONS of Photos: Urthquake/Noise Nomads

I had a great time on the road. It's been a pleasure to travel with Jeff (Noise Nomads) and Bob (Urthquake) for this tour. Don't forget to peep the new split 7" on Spooky Tree Records, the fantastic collective label directed by one of my favorite Commies, Darrin Stukuls. Thanks to Liza for loaning me her camera.
Note: Clicking on the photos will make them super-large...

The tour began at Bryan G's house with quiet sets from Urthquake, NorthPoleTapes, and Guilded (featuring Bry, Phloyd and Victor on harmonium, trombone and banjo). It was fun to raid an apartment complex! A mellow beginning to two weeks worth of shows.

The next night the kind folks at Tork Clock Studio allowed us to infiltrate their ranks with a blast of a time Thursday night that saw live performances from Urth (as a duo!), NN, NorthPoleTapes and Pegaside. Sadly, no open turnatables, as advertised. And a visit by some fucking redneck in a big truck who had a problem with me certainly gave some concern to the folks at the space. All in all, a fine time for the release party for the Urth/NN split 7".

Jeff's side of the split

I finished my workday on Friday to head over to John Doe Jr to hear an in-store show. Urthquake did a special 9/11 conspiracy show. Phloyd and Belltonesuicide also both did solo sets. Thanks to some of the folks who came through to play and listen. And much appreciation to JDJ's Scott for allowing us to take over and for being an all around nice guy with good prices and a good attitude.
Later on we jammed some vinyl at the People's Pint for our "Sweet Exorcist" monthly. DJ Urthquake joined our usual crew with some hot 60s garage jams and old skool hiphop. Thanks to Ben for putting up with us that night. And a surprise appearance from Jon King was a bonus to the whole thing.

Ruth, lovely bartender at the People's Pint. She puts up with us every 2nd Friday for our Sweet Exorcist vinyl night.

On Saturday, the 12th we left my place in G-field for Jersey City for a taping at WFMU. My good friend Dan Bodah hosts "Airborne Event" every Sunday morning 6-9 AM (ET). It is quite an eclectic and far-reaching program that I'd highly reccomend. He has bands he likes play in the studio. Due to the hour of his show he tapes them ahead of time and airs them during his on-air timeslot. Congrats to Dan and Shana on the birth of their second child, Hazel. It's amazing that he took the time out to come and greet us. Of course, there's always snags on tour and this time Jeff realized he left some crucial elements at my house. So Urthquake recorded and we drove all the way back to Western Mass afterward. Oops! So we just drove to Jamestown in the AM.

Inside WFMU...

Jamestown was a good time. Jonny Cobra and friends hosted us and fed us and gave us some good local beer, Southern Tier. Since the clubs were closed that day we did a house party above Jon's record shop Townhouse Records. A fun night of records, noise, drone, beer and joy. And big shout to Labyrinth Press Coffee And Bookshop for the free food for the road. I reccommend J-town to anybody looking for good people and good times. It was my second time there, having been hipped to it by Dan Friel when he and I were stopped there on his April tour. An oasis where there seems to be little musical and cultural activity.

Townhouse Records, Jamestown NY (Jonny Cobra, Bob Urthquake)

Our Cleveland day started in Jamestown, NY and some quick travel destinations allowed us to make stops in Erie, where I DID NOT see any boats crashing on the lake. The tower above the city was a nice spot to be on on of the most pleasant days of the year. And we did stop in Oberlin at Aaron Dilloway's house to swap some vinyl. Aaron is a nice guy who runs Hanson Records and he used to be in Wolf Eyes. I did score a couple of awesome records from him. I picked up a vinyl copy of Sun Ra's "Concert for the Comet Kohoutek", which is actually a reissue of a CD (which came first). Long one of my favorite of Ra's lesser-appreciated records, I find the philosophy to be very straightforward on this early 70s live album. I also scored a copy of the 80s international hardcore/punk classic "War/Peace" compilation with everyone you can imagine on it (MDC, Septic Death, etc). I've had a cassette of it for decades and now I have the vinyl! More details on that classic here. Aaron also gave us a compilation CD for the road that he put together of some of his faves from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. And Cleveland was a fun time at the Grog Shop's Experimental Pizza Night (the last one ever...too bad). Sam Goldberg was the gracious host, and some other folks played, including Rottonbone and DJ Dr Quinn. The bathrooms have to be the most graffitied I've ever seen. And I must give appreciation to Philville for filling in on my Clandestino program.

The city of Erie, PA

Jeff, above Lake Erie

And how about that sky...

Aaron's dog, Sticky

Bob, Jeff and Aaron Dilloway

Little Italy, Cleveland OH

The women's bathroom at the Grog Shop, Cleveland OH

In Columbus we visited Used Kids Records (one of my fave record stores--how can you not?). NN and Urth did low-key sets in-store and I bought a bunch of things, including wax from Randy Weston, Schooly D, Phil Flowers, a "Back from the Grave" comp, Saraat Mielet and more. Bob picked up not one but TWO copies of the first Ted Nugent solo album. What tricks does DJ Urthquake have up his sleeve? I had the fortune of seeing one of all time most powerful live sounds I've ever heard from Italian band oVo. Just two people in Mexican wrestling masks--a woman playing severely downtuned guitar, and some bowed dreadlocks and screaming vocals and a dude on just floor tom and snare and cymbal. A glorious racket that cannot be fucked with. Unfortunately, I was less than impressed with the other bands. Afterwards, we stayed at Skylab. Thanks to Johnny and folx there for allowing us to crash.

Instore at Used Kids, Columbus OH

Views of Skylab


Downtown Columbus in the AM

Pittsburgh is the city of Steel. It never fails to amaze me how we can be driving in the rural mountains of Western Pennsylvania and drive through a mountain into a tunnel and come out on top of downtown Pitt with all its mammoth skyscrapers. A pretty small city with not-too-much going on gives the illusion of being much bigger than it is with all its tall buildings and bridges everywhere. And it is so mountainous that you can drive up above the tall buildings and look down on the city. There's even woods there where deer cross the city highways. It was my fourth time in Pittsburgh (my third in the last thirteen months) and every time Scott Tuffiash and his family have come through to greet us. It was amazing to see Layla again! Thanks also to (another) Scott and Sarah for the generous hospitality in their home.

Wheeling, WV

Morgantown, West Virginia proved to be an uneventful stop on the way to Baltimore. A former redneck town turned moneyed, we did however appreciate the monorails whizzing through the city delivering sorority girls safely to their binge drinking parties. As far as our visit's highlight...we did find a very nice burrito spot with some genuine hospitality and some cool fixings at a good price.

Evil Bob rocking the Burzum shirt in Morgantown, WV

One of those Tram things in Morgantown

Baltimore was a wild party scene. A rundown squat complete with shattered glass and rats everywhere. We were in a seriously sketchy section of West Baltimore with all kinds of characters walking the streets deep into the night. We even saw what we thought was a lobster crawling down the road, but was in fact a crawfish that came from the back alley ghetto pond. Noise Nomads had the place in a heavy moshpit with his guitar-hero antics. Chairs were being thrown! Thanks to James and Dore and everyone else for the free beer. And to quote Patton Oswalt: "Squibelly flabbedy doo!!!!".

The squat we played in West Baltimore. They're calling it America.

Random giant crawfish walking down the back alley street at 2 AM.

Jeff had dudes moshing...

...chicks headbangin'...

...and psychos throwing chairs!

Ren and the folks at Deep Pizza Zone in Kensington gave a warm pizza welcome to us from the City of Brotherly Love. Plenty of beer and good vibes to go around. And did I mention the Pizza? It just kept coming and coming. Food for all! My fave slice was the potato pierogi with jalapeno cheddar and garlic (with beer in the crust!). Next time I'll have to try the infamous mac n' cheese pizza. The space was really cool, a former garage renovated into some nice digs. Dogsynth and Fun played, as well as Urthquake and the Jeff Hartford/Robert Fransisco duo. Cheers to Rob Fransisco for being a swell guy anytime I hang with him and for telling cool stories about all the rock stars he drives around. (Lemmy from Motorhead being his fave). And it was cool to see the nice folks from Baltimore arriving for the show! Urthquake had several folks completely entranced for the entire duration of the set. And there's always a bit of leftfield humor within the evil.

Among the tasty pies. Thanks Ren!

Urthquake in Philly

Typing from Bob's HQ in Lakewood, NJ with cats and horror flicks all around me, an Abel Ferrara biography that I just read sitting behind me and the Pax Nicholas reissue on the turntable. We drove in from the gig in Philly early in the AM, finding a completely ridiculous police checkpoint right outside the city. Thousands of dollars wasted on harrassing every citizen driving out of Philadelphia. FUCK YOU CHERRY HILL, NJ POLICE DEPT!!! And fuck the pigs everywhere as a general rule! Shitbags.

Bob's fishtanks

Black metal bookshelf

Brooklyn proved to be close to home, with folks like Dan Friel and his wife Sarah on the scene. First we met up with Dan and Mike Burke for some grub. Always a blast. Dan set up the thing at Cinders Gallery. I've been to Cinders once before to check some things by Sam McPheeters and Neil Burke. It's a nice spot on Havemeyer St in Williamsburg, close to Dan's place. Dubknowdub, Urthquake, NN, and Dan all played. I'm sorry I missed DND, but I was catching up with my old friend Taylor B-C down the street. With some cool colors hanging everywhere, all the artists brought a wide pallete of sound. From songs to noise, shopping cart percussion and modified pedal systems...many colors were splashed (PBR included). Afterwards we got into some good stuff a few blocks away. Rich Patten being on the scene added to the vibes. And how can you not love a city that you can have a sandwich made to order at 3 in the AM?

Yes, that's a viking eating a burrito.

A close-up shot of Jeff's pine cone vest.

Dan reacting to Noise Nomads

Sarah's bug

Our most recent stop at WFMU in Jersey City found a surprise visitor in Bryan G. He was in a very excited mode. Jeff did his recording for Dan Bodah's "Airborne Event" radio show. Let's just say he took a bite (or three) out of the Big Apple with his SPFLD crunk.

WFMU's Dan Bodah

Bryan G

Jersey City...the JC

We drove up to Providence for the next stop. Of course, with I-95 being the pain in the ass that it usually is we got stuck in a traffic crawl. I'm talking an hour and 45 minutes for five miles! We finally rolled into Olneyville at dark and hit up a spot on Peace Street for a surprise birthday party. We picked up Darrin, head of the Spooky Tree enterprise, in front of Armageddon. We then found la Lupita's Mexican eatery. A highly recommended spot that Jeff knew about and it really satisfied. Located in a space that formerly housed a porno shop, we ate some authentic awesome food. Nothing like really cheap and great Mexican food!
The space was called Mars Gas, an old factory building turned artists squat. With electricity lines coming in through the window, Urthquake was a duo again with Andy and his synth and guitar really added new dimensions. Urthquake just got better and better. Pak played, as well as another local guy. NN destroyed, as usual. And it was great to see Christopher Forgues (aka Mark Lord/Kites) and Cybele (Blue Shift) a couple of friends from years past. Thanks for the support.

The entrance to Mars Gas

Darrin and Jeff hard at work at the roving Spooky Tree office.

Andy, some-time second member of Urthquake

"The skull is fuming!!!"


After the show we drove back to Western Mass. After seeing a huge industrial fire in Springfield we got back to Greenfield around 430 AM. All I did was sleep 'til we got to WMUA on Monday to return to my weekly radio show, Clandestino. I even got to play some Patton Oswalt. The playlist for that show is here. After a nightcap at the People's Pint it would be time to look to the next day of work.

At WMUA with Anilyn Diaz & Andujar

Poster by Maura Arraj

After finishing my first day back at my 9-to-5, we hit the Wagon Wheel for lunch, grabbed DJ B-COMING and his new car for a spacious ride up I-91's gorgeous Vermont countryside to Burlington (actually Wynooski) VT for the final date for Urthquake and NN. Kastle set it up at Post Decadent Studio, represented by an ex-member of Crash Worship (!!) among other kind folks. We were successful in getting our friends from Cleveland, Clan of the Cave Bear, onto the night. And they totally destroyed with their Naked City/Napalm Death-ish guitar/drum grindnoise orchestra. What a joyful noise. All in all a very hip spot to be that night. Thanks so much to B for the lift.

The Wagon Wheel, Gill MA on Rt 2

Rollin' in style...thanks to DJ B-COMING

Cleveland's Clan of the Cave Bear

Our merch table

Bob's merch table


That concludes our journey here. Thanks so much to all the folx who made it happen and those who came out. And especially to Noise Nomads and Urthquake. Hopefully we'll get some pics from Jeff.

Some highlights from our road music:
"Back from the Grave" series of mid 60s American garage punk
"African Scream Contest"--70s West African jams
Motley Crue-"Shout at the Devil"...another guilty pleasure
Urthquake DJ mixes...truly eclectic!
Athiest-first album...a deal at $5
"Dilled by NWOBHM" comp put together by Aaron Dilloway
Harvey Milk
lots of comedy--Patton Oswalt, Bill Hicks, David Cross, Gilbert Gotfried, Eddie Murphy, Mitch Hedberg, ao
"Pirate Fuckin' Radio" mixtape
Black Sabbath
"Michigan Funk" comp on Ubiquity
"Colombia!" comp on Soundway
DJ Bongohead's "Road Runner" new wave mixes
"Love Peace Poetry"--the Turkish edition...60s/70s psych

Here, we leave you with a treat... (watch that language!)

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